The Mammoth Lakes Library held a book to action discussion at the Edison Theatre on Wednesday evening Sept. 4. The book, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him” is a story about highly decorated, former U.S. Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan’s struggle through physical wounds and post traumatic stress disorder after two tours in Iraq, and the dog who helped him through it all.
When Captain Montalvan was in his adolescence he would draw pictures of soldiers and dream of being a warrior. In 1990 at the age of 17 Montalvan joined the military. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to captain after 17 years of service. “You don’t spend that much time at something if it’s not something you love,” Montalvan said on Wednesday night.
“Book to action is a model program and a unique program bringing together libraries, people and communities,” he explained. As a child Montalvan said his parents would often drop him off at the library. “The library was like my surrogate parent and I was delighted to be in a library as a young child.”
Tuesday was a Puppies Behind Bars dog, a program that has inmates train dogs to be service animals. Tuesday was two years, two months old when Captain Montalvan was paired up with him.
“There has to be darkness to be light,” Montalvan said as he explained his roll in the military and the government’s lack of care for its veterans.
“We lost the Iraq War, we are going to lose the war in Afghanistan. Our nation is not at war but our military is. When the nation wants to win a war, we win a war.
“We didn’t beat the Germans the Russians did,” he continued. “The only war we have won as a nation is against the Japanese. We bombed, conquered and created democracy in that country.” That is a win, he said.
He provided a view of what happened once when he was dropped into battle. Montalvan said that he and his fellow soldiers where ill-prepared for battle in 2003 when dropped into a hostel territory with no weapons. He was in charge and said having so many soldiers depending on him was tough to swallow. He said values are a big part of leadership but the U.S. government has none. He said lies fuel the wars to keep them going.
“There are roughly 2.5 million solders and .001 of them come back as an amputee which is about 1,900 solders. What about the couple of million that come back with brain trauma or post dramatic stress disorder that get no aid and suffer without help?” Montalvan said. “The government has a blind eye toward you and doesn’t care about your mental well being. Brain trauma plagues most veterans.”
He said that 22 veterans a day commit suicide in our country alone, and the suicide rate in active members goes up every year from these problems.
“Our government uses and abuses our soldiers and just basically throws them away when they are done with them,” Montalvan said.
Montalvan explained that when he returned from service the second time he buried himself in a rum bottle without hope. It was the hope of getting Tuesday that made him clean himself up. He knew that he had to have a good environment for his new companion.
“Tuesday was the light at the end of the tunnel,” Montalvan said. He said that animal assisted therapy worked and advocated it for more war vets. He also suggested an “Adopt a Vet” program as another method of helping soldiers through their rough times.